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Sunday, June 2, 2013

My New Ninetology i9400 Black Pearl II, A Guide for Android Newbies, Review and More

My purchase price? According to the table above, obviously its RM299(thanks to my bro). The additional rebate is actually the manufacturer's rebate. The smartphone comes together with a 3 pin USB mains adapter, an approximately 9 inches long micro-USB cable and a handsfree. Oh, I nearly forgot, and the best of all is a free screen protector plus 1 month free DG Prepaid Smart Plan worth RM25. NOTE: According people at LowYat forums, customers who bought the phone are suppose to be entitled a free phone case. I didn't get it due to a stingy seller. So it all depends on the seller.

This handsfree which has a flat cable design should last longer than most others.

Comes in neat sealable plastic bags :D

This is my very first smartphone and for such a price, I just gotta love it. 

Physical and Outer Appearance(and feel)
At first feel(holding it), it has a very solid build very similar to that of an iPhone because of its beautiful curves. In fact, it looks a lot like an iPhone but bigger - about 1 cm wider and slightly longer. There are only 2 buttons, one at the left side of the phone which are the volume buttons and the power button at the top right. Right beside the power button to the left is the micro-USB slot followed by the 3.5mm audio jack socket 1 cm away. As for the camera, just by interpreting the first image at the top you can tell that it is raised. Based on my observation, it is raised about 2 mm from the rest of the phone's back. In my opinion the camera lens might get scratch easily because of this BUT the manufacturer designed it with a metal rim that is slightly raised from the camera lens which makes it less vulnerable. The back cover of the phone is kind of difficult to open even though it is designed with a slit at the bottom left side of the cover for you to slide your fingernails in and plop the cover a little - something like how you use a spoon to open a tight lid.

It's Software

Full Smartphone Firmware and Software Versions and Others
Android version - 4.0.4

Basevand version- MAUI.11AMD. W12.22.SP.V5.P2, 2012/09/19 15.39

Kernel version - 3.0.13  -  jlhong @jlhong-Studio-540 #1 SMP PREEMPT Mon Dec 24 09:54:22 CST 2012

Build number - ALPS.ICS2.MP.V1

Custom build version - i9400_PR_ninetology_F4_V16 (LATEST as of 26/1/2013)

Just 3 words: Plenty. Of. Bloatware. I think I uninstalled 8 out of 10 applications that came with the phone. QQDoctor is one of the main culprits. Another one is MWarranty - although I kept a backup of it just in case. When I checked running apps before any uninstalls, guess what I found, an FM 97.1 radio running and 3 (of the same) weather widgets - like WTF?
Got rid the next after rooting it which I will explain later on.

Battery Life
From what I've read in the forums and reviews, it's battery life is an issue mainly due to unused apps running in the background. So far after removing bloatware and installing a power managing app called Easy Battery Saver - which helps by turning off functions like WiFi when you're not using it, my phone seems to last for 1 hour for every percent of battery on standby. I'll confirm this after a week or so.

Something important to read regarding battery life:

Prepping Your NEW Ninetology i9400
I'll just provide the links to relevant information and some explanation.
LowYat Forums - From the first post alone you can get the necessary USB driver in order for your smartphone to be connected to your computer as well as the software(MTKdroidTools) to root your smartphone. Includes step by step guides to do everything needed - from installing the USB driver to getting your smartphone rooted. This would be the first place to go to.

Life Hacker - The Lifehacker team have compiled a heck of comprehensive info on Android including how to clean the devices, good apps to get and SO MUCH MORE.

The articles on Android by Lifehacker cover pretty much everything you ever need to know about your Android smartphone. Lifehacker constantly brings in more articles of Android whenever possible. Just check in often.

(Some of)  My Chosen Apps(OUTDATED - PLEASE REFER BELOW)

They're pretty easy to find - just GOOGLE! Details on most of these apps can be found at

Titanium Backup Pro

Camera Zoom Fx



ROM Manager Premium 

Other Things to Note
  1. GPS doesn't seem to work. Maybe needs configuration.
  2. Camera resolution at 8megapixels=3264x2448 , 4.9megapixels=2560x1920
  3. My Black Pearl 2 seems to lag at every boot. After a while, the lag recedes.

End Note: 
Just about everything you need to know can be found at those websites so I don't need to explain further. As for me, I've pretty much got all my necessary apps. Now all that's left is getting a better ROM and kernel.Oh, and not forgetting updating the Android itself.

-----------------------------------------UPDATE (2/2/2013)--------------------------------------------
According to the sources at LowYat  forums, there's a new custom ROM for the Ninetology i9400. The ROM can be obtained HERE - it's called CINK SLIM V15. I haven't tried installing it yet so there won't be a guide until I successfully installed it myself. 

Another tip from the forums:how to take a screenshot of your Android phone. Just press the Volume Down and Power button simultaneously for about 2-3 seconds. Your screen will flash and a smaller version of your screenshot will preview before your device starts saving it - it will give a notification. TIP: Make sure when pressing the 2 buttons, neither the volume decreased nor the 'switch off,airplane mode' notifications comes up.


----------------------------------------UPDATE (10/3/2013)------------------------------------------- 

Finally after nearly 2 months of experimenting and observations, I've compiled interesting screenshots on battery performance for the Ninetology i9400 Black Pearl Two.

NOTE: Most of them are self-explanatory.

Pic 13 of album:
Details in the Android's battery history.
Mobile network signal:
Green: Good
Yellow: Moderate
Red:     Bad
Grey:    Standby/low signal (not 100% sure myself)
Blank : No signal/cell off/in airplane mode 

If I were to estimate, I would say on a full charge:
CALLS - 6 hours
MUSIC - 9 hours - with screen on only to check music being played and others
GAMING-8 hours
On WiFi - 4 hours - not too sure on this one
Standby - 108 hours

Can't say how long it will while using data all the time cause I don't. SO if you're like me who uses his smartphone for, well, as a phone mostly, you don't have to worry about battery life too much. In my opinion, as long as I don't have to recharge my phone more than every 2 days for about 3 hours per charge, it's fine by me.

Any related questions are welcome!!!!!



ColorNote Notepad Notes To Do

GO Launcher EX

Panorama - 360 (Free)

Voice Search

System App

Camera ZOOM FX

Top Developer

SwiftKey Keyboard

Top Developer

Poweramp Music Player

Max MP
Top Developer

ROM Manager (Premium)



Crafty Apps


It's stable enough to be put upright

Compare it with the original Code case for Ninetology i9400:
Pretty s***s right?

 And down here is the original case for the Samsung Galaxy S2:
My case can actually fold up like this.

Design and functionality is practical.


As you can see in the pictures at the top, the hole for the camera which is designed for the Samsung Galaxy S2 has to be extended. I used a pair of mini-pliers(the cutting heads are about the size of a 5 sen coin). Once that's done, I used UHU glue to cover the exposed inner layers of the cover cause it looks like compressed cardboard which means it's easily damaged by water. The outer cover of my phone cover isn't exactly waterproof either. It kinda absorbs a little moisture making it feel a little soggy(REALLY little). Totally cost = ONLY RM25 and a few minutes of your time. After using it for over a month, it's definitely much better than the Code case since it only covers the back. The only 2 issues with my modified Samsung Galaxy S2 case is ,first, that the speaker is blocked since it's difficult (and most likely ugly to cut open a hole for the speaker) and second, the volume buttons at the left side is not as easy to press as before but it's definitely doable. As an added bonus, now I can put my reload cards with my phone all the time.

----------------------------------------UPDATE (14/3/2013)------------------------------------------- 
I've started tinkering with my i9400 by upgrading it with the new WIKO CINK SLIM V15 ROM and it is a success. The guide back at LowYat Forums showed how to do it but it wasn't accurate so I decided to make my own based on his. 

Here's the original: by stupidomen

Here's my guide(from start to finish including backup)
  1. First of you need to download MTK Droid Root and Tools HERE and the WIKO CINK SLIM V15 ROM.
  2. Start backing up your current ROM in your smartphone. Run MTKdroidTools.exe with your phone connected to your computer.
  3. Turn on USB Debugging under Settings menu - Settings->System->Developer Options. This step is important so that MTK Droid Tools can detect your phone. If it works it just be something like this:user posted image
  4. Click the 'ROOT' button. Your phone will ask to enter recovery mode. Touch the restore button. If this dialog box appears, click NO.
    user posted image
  5. Go to root, backup, recovery tab in MTK Droid Tools. Beside the big 'Backup' button check the box that states 'Backup user data and cache' then click the Backup button.user posted image
  6. Let MTK Droid Tools do its thing. It will take some time - 5-10mins. 1 problem that can occur is something to do with lack of space on drive. The problem has to do with your SD card being almost full. Clear up some space. Not sure what's the minimum space required though. A dialog box will appear asking whether to pack the backup(i.e. archive it). Your choice. I rather choose YES cause the packed version is significantly smaller. For example, my latest backup is about 2.26GB unpacked. once packed it's only 951 MB.
  7. This what happens if try to flash before using the MTK Droid Tools to prepare it.
  8. OKAY. Here's where it gets a little different from the original guide. Supposedly your backup is already done but it's currently not in the right format ready to be flashed to your phone (based on my understanding). To get it ready to flash to your phone, click the 'To prepare blocks for Flashtool' button. Choose the .md5 file(green correct sign) in your UNPACKED backup folder. This is where MTK Droid Tools will do its magic in making the backup ready to be flash to your phone.
  9. This step onwards is for flashing a ROM(or backup) to your phone. In the WIKO CINK SlIM folder should have a application called FlashTool. Run it. Make sure to install the driver that comes along with the FlashTool.
  10. Click 'Scatter-Loading' on the right. Look for a .txt file named 'MT6577_Android_scatter_emmc'. Then click on the Download button.FINALLY, take out your phone's battery for a few seconds and put it back in. DO NOT turn it on. Connect your phone to your computer. If everything goes right it should be like this:

The guide by stupidomen mentioned this dialog box would appear after you click the Download button. It didn't happen to me but if it does to you, stupidomen says to click YES. THEN you plug in your phone(after taking out the battery)
user posted image

Screenshots from new ROM:

As you can see, the Inter Storage increased by 1GB. Minused 1GB from the Internal SD Card/Phone Storage.  For some reason my 32GB External SD Card became the new Internal SD Card(i.e. files are written automatically to it; screenshots, photo shots, Titanium Backup) which is a good thing. I'll observe for a few weeks to see the changes.

---------------------------------------(UPDATE ON 3/5/2013)-------------------------------------------

People these days keep complaining about their smartphone's battery keep running out so I've taken the initiative to do further testing on my phone's battery endurance over the past month, BUT, not how I did the months before. In this month or so, I've only charged my phone when it's totally run out of battery. To be precise: not enough energy to turn it on. To make sure my phone really has no energy left to power itself on I use it till it shutdown by itself. If you try to turn it on after after that(without charging), the phone will just vibrate.

Screenshot results:
All are self-explanatory so there's nothing necessary for me to mention.



Below are all from 29/4/2013

8 DAYS+++!!! The longest i've heard is 4 days so I guess this is a new record :P . I now consider charging from 0 to 100 as a significant step to improving battery endurance. Average charging time: 6-8 hours.

--------------------------------------------(UPDATE ON 23/5/2013)-----------------------------------------------------------
Jelly Bean Android kernel for the Ninetology i9400 has been release. Well to be exact, the Android OS update for the French model of the phone has been released. Tested it and it works perfectly! Here's how to install it:

IMPORTANT NOTE: The method to do all of this is exactly the same as I've mentioned above in UPDATE (14/3/2013) with just one extra step at the beginning.

First off , of course, is to download the Jelly Bean itself. LINK:
It's the one marked red.

Next you must reinstall the USB driver for the phone just like you did it the first time when you flash the WIKO CINK SLIM ROM. If you to connect the phone straight away by USB, you will get an error stating the driver isn't properly installed(on Windows that is).
So got to your Device Manager and find the Wiko labelld device with an exclamation mark enclosed in a yellow triangle. Double click it then click 'Update Device Driver'. Then, click on 'Browse my Computer for driver software' followed by Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer'. There will be a list of devices shown afterwards. Double click 'Show all devices'. Now you should see a button 'Have disk' - click it and browse for this file show below:

Finally you are able to flash JellyBean 4.1.1 to your phone. Just use Flashtool. Your Flashtool should look something like this:

Then start the flashing process by clicking and "Download" and you're done. You'll be enjoying Android 4.1.1 in minutes.

But this isn't all, now your BP2 isn't rooted anymore but unfortunately I couldn't root my phone either. Using the same method to root using MTKdroid Tools, my phone keeps restarting whenever I tried to root it which is suppose happen during the process but it keeps doing it over and over. So rooting the phone will have to wait.

 Here's a couple of screens from Android 4.1.1:

------------------------------------------------(UPDATE ON 2/6/2013)------------------------------------------------------ 
ALRIIIIIIGHT!!! Rooting is now possible for Android 4.1.1 on Ninetology Black Pearl II ! Before this, what I (and most of you) have done is using MTKdroid Tools to do it but just a few simple clicks but unfortunately it is now obsolete after Android 4.0.4. Thanks to Anonymous(commenter) dated May 29, 2013 at 5:38 PM for sharing his/her findings, he/she pointed me to what I and the rest of us were missing. Here's the lowdown:

At its current state, the best you phone can be is having an UNROOTED Android 4.1.1 with other technical details as shown in the screenshot in my previous update. It is from THIS VERY STATE OF THE PHONE that you MUST take the next steps  which WILL give you the well needed ROOT.

Source:A French Forum - Link Shared by an Anonymous Commenter - P.S. I translated it for easy viewing

FIRST: Get Scatter for Clork Work Mod(CWM) Custom Recovery (Direct Relink) 
          and Super User for WIKO CINK SLIM (Direct Relink)  

SECOND: Flash Clock Work Mod Custom Recovery using Flashtool. (Method is exactly like for all previous steps involving Flashtool - Refer at top) and place the Super User(which comes downloaded as an archive) directly in your SD card of your phone. NOTE: Leave the Super User as it is. Don't extract it.

THIRD: Enter recovery mode for your phone: Press and hold volume buttons(up and down) + Power button until it enters a menu depending on whether your phone is ON or OFF. If ON, your phone will restart before entering the menu. If OFF, your phone should enter the menu quicker. It takes nearly 10 seconds of holding down the aforementioned buttons before the phone actually restarts so it's best to just turn it off first. After that It takes another 8 seconds before entering a menu. The menu should have 3 options:Recovery mode,Fast Boot mode and Normal Boot mode.

FOURTH: Now you should have entered Clock Work Mod Custom Recovery with it's respective logo on the screen. Select 'Install ZIP from SD card' and find the Super User ZIP file. Flashing begins and ends in about 10 seconds. Go back to root menu of Recovery,select reboot and DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NOTE: If you tried to flash using the default Android Recovery, the thing will just abort.

I did try using ROM Manager Premium to do this. Just select the 'install from SD card' option. It seems to detect the Super User ZIP but without ROOT it's useless. I'm guessing this is how to Flash using ROM Manager. 

------------------------------------------------(UPDATE ON 17/8/2013)------------------------------------------------------

I seemed to had accidentally 'bricked' my phone. Here's the full story: I forgot to charge my phone when it warned me of low battery levels. So it ended up running out of juice to even turn on. And on I go to charge it through my laptop's USB port. After a few minutes (when it had enough charge) , I attempted a reboot and found it to be reset to French! Not the language only, the entire phone setup turned up like it was when I first flash WIKO CINK SLIM JB. It was just the preliminary setups like asking which SIM card to use,etc. I thought it glitched and tried a reboot but it ended up bricked - not even able to BOOT!

My first thought was to reflash the entire ROM. But my Flashtool gave me an error:
[User] SOC verification fail!

I tried configuring the stuff to flash to the phone but none of it worked. So i tried getting a newer version of Flash Tool HERE(NEWER VERSION: 3.1248.0.sn96) and it worked without a hitch! The weird part is that I used the older version of Flash Tool(OLD VERSION:3.1220.01) for the previous flashes and not once did I see the error above.

----------------------------------UPDATE ON (17/11/2013) ----------------------------------------

Here's the download link for Ninetology's i9400 STOCK ROM:

Use MTKDroid Tools to do the job.

----------------------------------UPDATE ON (21/7/2013) ----------------------------------------

It's been quite a while since there's an update for the Ninetology Black Pearl 2. I assume this phone is no longer being supported by the manufacturer and developer. In accordance with that fact, I've also switched to a much newer phone, the Xiaomi MI3 which you can read more on my blog HERE. It was a good phone since it was my first smart one but I have to move on - it was starting to feel slow to me since I've become quite a power user. Alas, things do come to an end.